It’s hard to believe that one year ago I was on a trip in Washington, D.C. as a member of the Political Science Association at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, and we had the opportunity to visit the National Headquarters of the American Red Cross. I was amazed by the fact that Red Cross does far more than what most people assume that they do. Personally, I had always thought that they mostly dealt with blood services, but after visiting National Headquarters I learned that the Red Cross also deals with international humanitarian law (IHL) along with several other areas of service.
Personally, I was highly interested in Red Cross’s dedication to educating and increasing awareness in regards to IHL. In fact, the American Red Cross has adopted a campaign from the Belgian and French Red Cross’s that have developed a simulation training program called “Raid Cross.” This program explores and addresses the humanitarian issues involved in armed conflict situations, the basic rules of IHL that apply, and the importance of these rules in conflict situations, such as preventing harm to civilians.
I was eager to know if and how I could become involved with the American Red Cross and IHL. So, while I was visiting D.C., I asked my professor if he knew of any internship opportunities in the Twin Ports area with American Red Cross. In fact, he pulled his email up on his smart phone and sent an email to Dan Williams at the Northern Minnesota Chapter in Duluth, MN, right there on the street in front of the National Headquarters. By the time I returned from the East Coast, I had an interview set up with Dan and was well on my way to starting my journey with American Red Cross!
Author: Vanessa Smith, University of Wisconsin-Superior, Minnesota Region
*The purpose of the IHL Action Campaign is for young people to teach their peers about the importance of IHL, as well as issues related to healthcare in danger, torture, and humanitarianism.